What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease affecting 2% of the population
Psoriasis can affect the nails and the joints as well as the skin. About half of people with psoriasis have psoriasis affecting the nails. For people with moderate to severe psoriasis about one in three will develop psoriatic arthritis at some time. Psoriatic arthritis produces swelling and stiffness in the joints or stiffness in the lower back.. Psoriasis can also be associated with an increased risk of harmful use of alcohol and with diabetes and obesity.
What causes psoriasis?
Both inherited and environmental factors play a role in the development of psoriasis. Some people are more likely to develop psoriasis than others, particularly if someone in their family has psoriasis. Skin affected by psoriasis is red and scaly. The outer layer of skin (the epidermis) contains skin cells which are continuously being replaced. This process normally takes between three and four weeks. In psoriasis, the rate of turnover is dramatically increased so that cells are formed and shed in as little as three or four days. For many individuals factors such infections, stress, alcohol and/or smoking have a role triggering flares of psoriasis. Certain medications such as beta blockers (used to treat high blood pressure and angina), lithium and tablets used to treat malaria, can also cause psoriasis to flare.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
- Psoriasis may not have any associated symptoms but it can be itchy and painful. Certain sites such as the scalp, lower legs and groin can be particularly itchy. If psoriasis affects the hands and feet, painful fissures or cracks can develop and these can affect use of the hands and walking. Severe psoriasis on the body can also develop fissures which are painful and can bleed.
· Psoriasis can affect the nails and lifting of the nail plate from the nail bed can be painful.
· Psoriatic arthritis produces pain, swelling and stiffness in one or more joints, particularly in the morning.